Blue-eyed soul has been around forever, white dudes have been trying — sometimes very successfully — to replicate the music that poured out of Detroit and Memphis during the 50’s and 60’s throughout almost every other decade to date. Jamie Lidell may have the most uncommon path to blue-eyed stardom, starting his career as one half of the electronic duo Super Collider. Yet the result is unmistakably smooth and expressive.
Jamie Lidell made a stop at the Metro here in Chicago last Wednesday night and I had the definite pleasure to catch the show. Lidell brought a great band with him, complete with the keyboardists’ version of Keith Richards. The rest of the band, including Lidell, were decked out in Elvis costumes and pajamas; they even brought out a bust of Elvis Presley with them on stage. To say the least, it was quite the night.
The show overall moved really well and he coupled most all of Jim with a few favorites from Multiply. The strength of his voice really impressed me because so many tweaks and touches can be done in the studio yet his voice had no noticeable drop in quality. All of his fellow band members got really into the show and played as if they owned the music as much as Lidell does. The horn player was especially gregarious and check out one of the last few photos to prove it.
The first half of the show was very much what you would expect from listening to Jim, heavy on the horns and groovy bass and drums. The different eras of soul music that Lidell’s sound touches on is what is remarkable about his music. There are songs in his catalogue that resemble early Otis Redding but he doesn’t dwell there long. Before you know it he’s dropping a late seventies Steve Wonder-esque tune on the crowd. His range within soul music definitely keeps the show fresh and entertaining.
A few songs into the show, Lidell and his sax player got into a little vocal duel. The sax player had mic fed into some type of electronic horn and they went at it matching note for note until both were rolling around on the ground. It definitely got the energy up in the room and the crowd was moving pretty well for the rest of the night.
Just when I began to get a little antsy Lidell dropped a fifteen minute DJ session into the middle of his set. He looped together his own beat-boxing abilities with samples and analog drums to create a really unique production style. For about ten minutes he had the whole room moving like we were all there to see a DJ down in the Smart Bar (Metro’s downstairs club) rather than a soul review. I really dug some of the cuts he put down and it was definitely an awesome way to break up a show that could have lingered a bit too long.
The second half of Lidell’s set was a bit more comfortable. He has got a really disarming stage presence that relies heavily on his own quirkiness that keeps things light. The band slowed things down a bit and Jamie got up on a stool to really show he wanted to take it easy for a minute. The show finished on a more upbeat note and overall was really well produced with a lot of thought into how the crowd was responding to the music. Lidell definitely plays for his fans and they show love back his way.
The highlight of the evening was during the encore when a young woman jumped up on stage to dance a little with Mr. Lidell. She caught nearly everyone off guard — the music came to a stop — but Jamie Lidell was very cool with it and put his arm around her for a second. Then before security nabbed her she disappeared back into the crowd. She’ll definitely remember that for a good long time, bravo miss for your moxie. There are a bunch more pics below, give them a look.